When ending a marriage, the division of property — both of positive and negative value — can be a complicated affair. It is not uncommon for some Pennsylvania residents to believe that they should be able to walk away from their marriages with certain positive assets and not be held accountable for their soon-to-be ex’s debts. Unfortunately, due to the nature of divorce, this may not all work out as one hopes it will.

Many couples are affected by student loan debt. When a couple chooses to end their marriage, one would think that the person for whom the loan was intended would have to take on the full responsibility of paying back the debt. In truth, it may be considered shared marital property and up to both spouses to pay off the loan.

When might this type of debt be considered shared marital property? It might be if it was obtained during the course of the marriage and was used for more than just school expenses. The nonstudent spouse may not be held accountable for debt repayment if he or she supported the student through his or her education or the degree earned allowed the graduate to obtain a high paying job.

If a couple cannot come to agreeable terms about the splitting of student loan debt when negotiating their divorce terms, the courts may get to decide how it will all work out. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, meaning each party should be able to leave the marriage with a fair division of assets and liabilities, not necessarily equal. Legal counsel can assist one in fighting for a property division settlement that is fair and balanced.